States of Knowledge: The Co-Production of Science and Social Order

By Sheila Jasanoff | Go to book overview

3

Climate science and the making of a global political order

Clark A. Miller

The sum of research into the science and impacts of climate change makes it clear that nothing less than dramatic reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases will stop the inexorable warming of the planet. Nothing short of action which affects every individual on this planet will forestall global catastrophe.

(Mostafa Tolba, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme, 1991)

Taking a co-productionist idiom seriously is essential to understanding the processes of globalization transforming the postwar world order as we commence the twenty-first century. In recent years, public concern about a host of environmental, economic and security issues has given rise to a growing demand for global political cooperation. 1 Perhaps the most surprising and important is the transnational mobilization of public opposition to the US war in Iraq grounded on the failure of the Bush administration to secure multilateral backing for its aims. Not since the creation of the League of Nations immediately following World War I, and the United Nations after World War II, has the belief that humanity must act in global concert achieved a comparable level of public support. Responding to these concerns, policymakers have created a host of new global institutions, such as the World Trade Organization and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. None of these new institutions yet shares the comprehensive mandate of the UN. Nevertheless, their collective consequences for world governance in the next 100 years may ultimately rival changes made by 200 years of liberal individualism, and the spread of national expressions of political identity and the Enlightenment ideal of a rational politics geared to social needs. 2

To date, the globalization of politics has not only failed to settle into a stable institutional framework, but has, in fact, exacerbated many of the uncertainties that haunt international relations. What is the proper division of authority between global and national political institutions? When is global intervention in national political choices legitimate? As global institutions acquire greater authority, do political actors other than nation-states - e.g. non-governmental organizations (NGOs), industry trade lobbies, local and regional governments, and individual citizens - acquire the right to participate in global policymaking? In what ways? Under what conditions and through what institutional arrangements

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